Catholic Answers Press has published a new single-volume edition of Radio Replies, the classic question-and-answer book by Australian apologist Fr. Leslie Rumble. As a new regular feature on the Catholic Answers blog, we will post some samples from Radio Replies to showcase Fr. Rumble’s knowledge, faith, and wit.
58. I have led a happy and contented life, the crux of all human endeavor. Why is religion necessary if this can be attained without religion?
If you are perfectly happy, you are the only one on earth who is. Is there absolutely nothing further you would like to have but which you do not yet possess?
Anyway, religion is not a kill-joy. One of the happiest men who ever lived was St. Francis of Assisi, born and bred in the Catholic spirit. The simplest priest finds more joy in saying one Mass, and the least of our Catholic people in one Communion, than you have experienced in your whole life.
The crux of all human endeavor ought not to be the securing of a happy and contented life in this world. Man’s main duty is the religious service of God. If you are able to be happy, you owe it to God that you exist, and that those things exist which give you happiness. You, therefore, owe to God the acknowledgment of your debt to him by religious worship, offering him your praise and gratitude. To take all, and enjoy it without the slightest manifestation of gratitude to God, is both unjust and most ill-mannered.
Again, if you seek happiness, seek it properly whilst you are at it. This world is not all. Your soul is immortal, and eternity awaits you. If the sole source of your happiness lies in the things of this world, then you are living in a fool’s paradise. No man can escape death, and every cause of happiness for you will be taken from you whether you like it or not. You brought nothing into this world with you, and you will take nothing of it with you when you die.
Where then will you find happiness? Religion is our bond with God who made us, and the earnest and fervent practice of religion keeps us in touch with the God whom we are to meet some day, and with whom we are to be forever, if we are to know happiness hereafter. Your own happiness, therefore, is bound up with your religious duties to God, and you owe him the acknowledgment which you can render him only by discharging the debt of religion. Neglect that duty, and you are guilty of a great injustice, and you will make wreckage of your eternity.
On your deathbed you may say that you “have had” many happinesses during life. But you won’t have them then. They came—only to go; and the memory of them will be no compensation for the miseries you will encounter, and which will never go. Be reasonably happy in this life, if you wish. But take up your duties of religion, make sure of your eternal happiness in the next life, and at all costs save your soul.